Jumat, 28 Agustus 2009

Where’s Facebook 3.0?

Facebook 3.0 Image10 days ago, Joe Hewitt, the developer behind Facebookfacebookfacebook for iPhone, tweeted out that he had submitted the newest version of the app, Facebook 3.0, for approval. It wasn’t a minor upgrade either – video uploading, managing and RSVPing for events, seeing birthdays, post updates to pages, zoom in on photos, an updated news feed, and much, much more.

You would think that, with Facebook being the #1 most downloaded application in the iPhone App Store, that Apple would, you know, speed up approval. Countless people are aware the app is in the queue, if the extensive press coverage says anything. Yet here we are, still waiting.

Dear Apple: Where the heck is Facebook 3.0? We’d really like to know.

Not even Facebook’s Joe Hewitt has a clue. In fact, he’s had to resort to speculation. His guess is that we’re close, since the Flixster App was approved earlier today:

He’s been so frustrated that he recently called for Apple to completely remove the review process. We don’t think that’s ever going to happen though, so our suggestion is to create a “trusted developer” status, whose new apps and app updates are automatically published to the App store. Really Apple, do you think Facebook is going to publish a buggy app to millions of users?

The app review process is completely frustrating and utterly broken. Unjustly banned iPhone Apps and FCC investigations are just a few prominent examples of the issues that plague Apple’s approval process.

Apple, get the Facebook 3.0 app out already, and then fix your app approval process ASAP. Haven’t you had enough embarrassments already?

Facebook to Announce Privacy Changes

facebook logoFacebook has been facing some heat in Canada for violation of that country’s privacy laws, and tomorrow the Canadian privacy commissioner will announce what the social networking company will be doing to address those concerns.

The issue surrounds retention of customer data even after a user cancels his or her account, which the Canadian privacy commission claims violates the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

There are also apparently concerns regarding how Facebookfacebookfacebook shares user information with third parties, particularly the now almost one million software developers making use of the Facebook application platform.

Though there’s no word yet on what exactly Facebook will do to address the privacy concerns, what is revealed at tomorrow’s press conference could have wider implications for other social networks and services surrounding privacy standards and the usage of customer data. Tamir Israel of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic said he also expects those changes to extend beyond Canadian borders as well and to possibly be implemented Facebook-wide.

Facebook has also informed us they’ll be doing a follow-up after tomorrow’s announcements:

“We will be having a media call tomorrow following the Canadian Privacy Commissioner’s press conference. The call will be tomorrow (August 27) at 11:30 AM EDT.”

Do you think keeping customer data after an account is terminated is a violation of privacy? What privacy standards do you think social networks should adopt? Share your comments below.

11 Million Facebook Users Flock to Virtual Farming Daily

farmville-logoThe rise of social gaming is happening more quietly than one might think given the statistics. Today we’re hearing about another potential milestone: Facebook (facebook) application FarmVille claims to be the fastest growing social game in history, reaching an impressive 11 million daily users in a little over two months.

To put that in perspective, World of Warcraft is the largest massively multiplayer game that dominates MMO marketshare with at last report 11.5 million active subscribers. Its publisher Blizzard hasn’t revealed any new population statistics since the end of last year, but assures the press that its figures are still growing. It took WoW four years to reach that many subscribers after its launch in late 2004.

Compare that to FarmVille, which only launched June 19 of this year. If its daily active stats are accurate, that would mean FarmVille is close to rivaling industry-leading World of Warcraft’s player numbers in only a little more than two months. Perhaps it has already eclipsed the elephant in the social gaming room if you look at its monthly stats, which boast 30 million active users.


Of course, it’s a little bit like comparing apples and oranges. WoW is an incredibly deep and detailed role-playing game often requiring exorbitant amounts of time to master and keep up with. FarmVille is a far more casual, pick-up-and-play for a few minutes type of virtual farm sim embedded in your Facebook page. It stands to reason that if you’re a Facebook user who plays the game, and you tend to check your Facebook account every day, you’ll probably spend at least a few minutes checking up on your virtual farm as well.

That’s exactly what the game’s developer, Zynga, is betting on. The largest social gaming company in the market to date, Zynga claims 27 million daily users across all its game titles on a multitude of social networks including Facebook, Myspace (MySpace), Bebo, Hi5 (Hi5), and more, as well as on the iPhone.

FarmVille and many of its other titles make money through virtual goods sales, where players spend real dollars to buy virtual currency or items in the game. Virtual item sales are already an enormous market opportunity, with an estimated $2 billion in sales last year. And that number is expected to grow.

Do you play FarmVille or other social games on Facebook or other social sites? Do you think these kinds of casual games and the virtual goods sales business model will continue to grow on social networks? Let us know in the comments.

Selasa, 11 Agustus 2009

Groups Discussing welcome to facebook

FriendFeed (FriendFeed) might not have close to the userbase of Facebook (Facebook) or Twitter (Twitter), but make no mistake about it: Facebook’s acquisition of FriendFeed has big implications for the social web. One of Twitter’s big advantages over Facebook to-date has been its real-time search, and Facebook has already indicated that they’re working to build a competitive product.

Of the many things FriendFeed has done well, search is at the forefront. Their real-time search engine is much stronger than Twitter’s in terms of interface and usability: it simply doesn’t have nearly the volume of content to be as valuable as Twitter search. However, that problem is immediately solved if you plug content from Facebook’s 250+ million members into it.

Combine that with FriendFeed’s team history – they previously built Gmail (Gmail) and Google Maps (Google Maps) so they obviously know how to scale things to Facebook size – and you have what sets up to be a serious threat to Twitter.

Now, to be fair, FriendFeed and Facebook are spinning the deal primarily as a combination of two very talented teams (which is absolutely true) and the FriendFeed as we know it today may cease to exist when all is said and done.

But Facebook has been angling to challenge Twitter for some time. For example, a status update focused re-design, Pages that function like Twitter accounts, and upcoming privacy changes that will make the site far more of an open network. Add powerful search from FriendFeed on top of that and you’ve essentially duplicated Twitter’s functionality.

Twitter, meanwhile, just re-positioned itself as a real-time search player – or “the world’s water cooler” as we described it – when they launched their new homepage. Facebook, with its huge userbase advantage, would be a much bigger water cooler once its Twitter emulation is complete and search is also added to the mix.

Of course, Twitter has plenty of lock-in: users have spent years building up a following, so it’s not likely that simply adding features to Facebook is going to be a crushing blow. But it does potentially limit the ultimate opportunity for Twitter, as its utility could be a lot less readily apparent to potential new users if Facebook does the exact same things but on a much larger scale.

Do you think Facebook + FriendFeed is a big threat to Twitter? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Welcome to Facebook, Batavia

Facebook’s on a roll today. Earlier today, Facebook acquired FriendFeed, one of the largest and most-discussed social media acquisitions we’ve seen in a long time. The deal is partly seen as a move by the world’s largest social network to boost their social technology, specifically realtime streams, conversations, social media aggregation, and search.

That’s what makes Facebook’s latest move so intriguing. In June, Facebook announced it was building a new real-time search to rival Twitter Search. It not only would search status updates, but photos, notes, images, videos, and links. Facebook has also made changes that will allow users to post their status updates publicly in anticipation of the new search.

Fast forward to today: Facebook just announced that it is rolling out the new Facebook search. With realtime search and FriendFeed (FriendFeed) in its pocket, Facebook is gunning directly for Twitter (Twitter).

According to Facebook, the new search will crawl the last 30 days of news feed activity – specifically status updates, photos, links, videos and notes from your friends’ Facebook profiles and the pages of which you are a fan. It will also crawl any public profiles and status updates (like mine).

The Biggest Challenge to Twitter Yet

As we have stated in previous articles, these moves are designed to compete with Twitter. The company does not like the fact that millions of people turn to Twitter when there is breaking news or a major event. Advanced Facebook search is a major leap towards that fight.

Will the FriendFeed acquisition play a role in the new search? We think so. FriendFeed rolled out real-time search itself not long ago, and it is very powerful. While Facebook’s done a good job with its new search features, FriendFeed can make it better. FriendFeed also generates more conversation, something Facebook aspires to have on its website as well.

Finally, this new search may not just be about Twitter, but also Google (Google), who is developing a real-time search engine of their own. If Facebook can get a bigger foothold in this lucrative market, even Google could be affected.

Today’s becoming one of the most interesting and dynamic days in social media history. Facebook (Facebook)’s on a roll.

Welcome to FaceBook | MySpace

makingof-aaronFormer West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin has taken on the task of writing the screenplay for the upcoming Facebook Movie, currently with the working title “The Social Network.”

In a short video interview (see it after the post break) with Natalie Portman’s film-focused social network MakingOf, Sorkin talks a little bit about how he got involved with the project. He also says he’s close to completing a first draft of the script for the film, slated to go into production later this year.

Sorkin says of the film, “it’s the fastest I’ve ever said yes to anything,” signing on after getting to page 3 of the 14-page book proposal from Ben Mezrich that producer Scott Rudin had optioned for the film even before “The Accidental Billionaires” was completely written.

What’s your prediction for the Facebook (Facebook) film: fabulous, or flop?

Welcome to Facebook, homeschoolers

facebook logoOn Twitter, your status update is yours for the selling (for now). In fact, services like Sponsored Tweets help you do just that, though not without creating a stir in the Twitterverse. Many users are vehemently opposed to seeing paid advertisements in their Twitter (Twitter) stream.

Until now, Facebook (Facebook) has stayed neutral on the paid-for-status-updates issue. In fact, we’ve seen a service called Status Plug give Facebook Page Admins the ability to sell their updates. Should the just proposed changes to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibility become the status quo, however, you’ll be bound by the new terms of service from outright selling your status update.

The new pending policy on status updates is in section 4 of the agreement and reads, “You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser).”

facebook SRR

We’re actually a fan of the new rule, and think it could ensure that Facebook users maintain a level of integrity that could be compromised on Twitter by services like Sponsored Tweets. What interests us more, though, is that Facebook felt the need to explicitly spell this out. Have they been watching the negative backlash directed at Twitter advertising platforms like IZEA? Are they concerned about the purity of status updates?

Or, is this more a move to accompany Facebook real-time search? Think about it, with public status updates and site-wide search, an opportunistic Facebooker could sell their updates and reach a wider audience, possibly polluting the whole ecosystem.

Facebook has obviously learned their lesson from the last time they changed their TOS, so you can review all the proposed changes before they go into effect. You can even become a fan of the Site Governance Page to weigh in with your comments before August 18.

Welcome At Facebook

Recently, MySpace (MySpace) launched a new feature for its millions of users: @myspace.com webmail. While it’s unclear if Facebook plans to follow suit any time soon, some new features the social network is announcing this afternoon could make member inboxes a bit more interesting, by way of third-party applications.

Facebook has introduced two new APIs: Inbox and Notifications. For users, what this means is that developers could soon launch desktop applications that integrate features like checking your messages and receiving app notifications. For example, an app like TweetDeck (TweetDeck) or Seesmic Desktop (Seesmic Desktop) could now offer alerts when any of these activities take place on Facebook.

Although Facebook isn’t yet offering an option for sending messages (you’ll still have to login to the site), they don’t rule it out, writing “we’re always thinking about new functionality to offer through Facebook Platform.” I’d certainly love to see this feature, as the current Facebook Inbox leaves lots of room for improvement (a new version is on the way however), and a slick third-party app could create a better interface and user experience.

This development follows news last week of the Open Stream API being extended to Facebook Pages, allowing users to push and pull Page updates to and from desktop apps. In all, it looks like Facebook (Facebook) is quickly getting serious about giving app developers the tools to build great desktop apps. Now, we wait to see who will build the best mouse trap.

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